Palm Desert

The City of Palm Desert, incorporated November 26, 1973, is centered in the heart of the Coachella Valley and is known as the cultural and retail center of the desert communities. The early maps labeled it as a “Sand Hole”. No one ever dreamed this sand hole would become a world-class destination resort.

The area was first known as the Old MacDonald Ranch but the name changed to Palm Village in the 1920s when imported date palm trees were planted. In the 1940s, World War II brought General George Patton to the area for warfare training of troops prior to battling the Germans in North Africa during WWII.

It was a team of visionaries in the 1940s, led by Cliff Henderson and his brothers, along with investors Leonard Firestone and Harold Lloyd, who turned this sand hole into a sparkling jewel. The Henderson brothers conceived an idea for a post-war community in the desert. They envisioned fine homes and swimming pools with a culture and community that would lure visitors from far and wide. These visionaries sensed the magic and potential of the desert and were captivated by its tranquil beauty. Their mission was to cause people to lose their “barren, desolate” mind-set about deserts. And so they began to turn the barren desert into an oasis and a new spirit and energy evolved into becoming modern day Palm Desert.

One of the first residential developments in Palm Desert occurred in 1943 in connection with an army maintenance camp. The site of the army camp was later developed into “El Paseo”, which today is known as the Rodeo Drive of the desert and features over 250 trendy upscale shops, luxury boutiques, art galleries and restaurants. El Paseo is home to Apple, Anthropology, Burberry, Gucci, James Perse, Kate Spade, Louis Vuitton, Lululemon, Ralph Lauren, Saks Fifth Avenue, St. John Boutique, Tiffany & Co., Tommy Bahamas and Mastros Steakhouse to name just a few.

In 1948, the Palm Desert Corporation began to develop real estate, and in 1951 the area was given its present name of Palm Desert. In the late 1970s and 1980s, a spate of private golf clubs, destination resorts and hotels appeared in the northern half of Palm Desert, such as the four-star JW Marriott Desert Springs Golf Resort and Spa in 1987. The Desert Springs Resort and Spa attracts international tourists for both leisure and business convention travel. This deluxe resort hotel is surrounded by rich landscaping and waterscapes where regal black swans and pink flamingos glide. A man-made lake connects the indoors with the outdoors and a gondola dock inside picks up guests and whisks them away to dining establishments on the property.

Palm Desert residents pay attention to protecting the environment and appreciating the natural desert landscape and desert animals. To accomplish this goal, The Living Desert was established in 1970 by several trustees of the Palm Springs Desert Museum who foresaw the impact that resort development would have on the local desert ecosystem. The goal of the living desert is to preserve a portion of the desert in its natural state. The Living Desert has evolved into one of the most popular destinations for visitors to Palm Desert with a zoo, botanical gardens and wildlife exhibits which include animals from all corners of the world’s deserts such as the the local Sonoran Desert, African Desert and Sahara Desert.

Rapid growth and several annexations in the 1980s and 1990s have made Palm Desert a major shopping destination and the main center of business activity in the Coachella Valley. Major players in the business sector, Oracle and Guthy Renker, have corporate offices headquartered here. Palm Desert is also situated as the center for top entertainment with the McCallum Theater for the performing arts, a delightful venue that features entertainers from across the country.

In 2002, the four-star Desert Willow Golf Resort, which features Palm Desert’s municipal golf course, came to fruition. Desert Willow Golf Resort exhibits Palm Desert’s pioneering skills in the use of drought tolerant landscaping and water saving features for golf course management. Palm Desert has been a leader in green technologies and the Desert Willow golf course is a fantastic example of these green technologies at work.

Palm Desert has a new claim to fame as the valley’s educational Vortex, bringing quality higher education with the completion of the new campus of California State University, San Bernardino-Palm Desert Campus and Heckman Center for Entrepreneurial Management, affiliated with the University of California, Riverside. This educational center will bring over 35,000 students to the Coachella Valley and will expand the valley’s educational opportunities by offering 4 year degree programs, masters degrees and certificates. College of the Desert, also located in Palm Desert, is a highly regarded member of the California Community College System. The College of the Desert campus is the location of the year round outdoor market “COD Street Fair” on Saturdays and Sundays, where fresh local vegetables, flowers, jewelry, crafts, art work, and other treasures can be found. The Coachella Valley is becoming an important member of the world of academia.

Along with being a major center of growth in the Coachella Valley, Palm Desert is a popular retreat for many part time residents “snowbirds” from colder climates in the Eastern and Northern United States and Canada. Southern Californians from the coasts and urban centers also retreat to Palm Desert for poolside respite from the everyday stresses of urban sprawl. In the past decade, Palm Desert has seen many of these part time residents become full time residents, relocating here in search of more affordable Southern California real estate coupled with the relaxing desert lifestyle and near perfect weather. The full time resident population has doubled within the last decade adding to the richness of this thriving city.

Palm Desert is a jewel in the Coachella Valley, an incredible place to call home. Palm Desert is the big city with all the amenities at your fingertips while still maintaining a small town, laid back vibe.